Hostility

As I have mentioned previously, I have been battling with Charter over a $300.00 gift card that I was to receive from the cable company upon signing up for a promotion.  I signed up for the promotion in February.  The gift card has still not arrived.  I spoke to over a dozen Charter employees about the issue and got nowhere.  Well, next to nowhere.  I received a $75.00 gift card.  After being told story after story about how they were “working” on the problem, I hit the wall on Monday.  I couldn’t talk about the problem anymore.  Instead, I decided to mail them the following letter.

 

To Whom It May Concern:

I have been a Charter Communications (“Charter”) customer continuously since 2005.  I am also a licensed attorney in the State of Wisconsin employed as an Assistant Attorney General at the Wisconsin Department of Justice.  My bar number is xxxxxxx. 

In February 2010, I noticed that Charter was offering a special that required the customer to commit to Charter for two years of service.  If the customer enrolled in three services – ie, internet, telephone and cable television – Charter would provide the customer with a $300.00 Visa gift card.  On February 19, 2010, I signed up for these three services and was told I would receive the $300.00 gift card in six to eight weeks from the date of installation.  The installation was done on February 20, 2010, making my receipt of the gift card due no later than Monday April 19, 2010.[1]   

On or about April 5, 2010, I telephoned Charter to inquire into the status of my gift card.  A Charter representative informed me that she was unable to assist in any way and that I must call a company called ‘Customer Motivators.’  Customer Motivators, I was told, handles all Charter promotions, a category into which the gift card apparently falls.  I telephoned Customer Motivators, was asked for some personal information and was told that the gift card would be sent to me shortly.  A few days later a letter came in the mail that contained a piece of paper that allowed me to choose one of several gift cards – including a Visa gift card – by checking off a box, returning the form and waiting another six to eight weeks.  The gift card was to be in the amount of $75.00. 

On April 13, 2010, I contacted Charter by “live chat” to ask why I had received this instead of my $300.00 gift card.  After “talking” with several representatives, I was told that no one at Charter could help me and that I must contact Customer Motivators.  I telephoned Customer Motivators on April 13, 2010, but the office was closed.  When I finally reached a person at Customer Motivators I was told that Charter had authorized only a $75.00 gift card for me and that Customer Motivators could do nothing for me without approval from Charter for a greater amount. 

On April 24, 2010, I contacted Charter again and explained the situation.  After being told several times that no one could help me and that I must call Customer Motivators, a representative finally told me that she would draft a “Research Request” to look into my situation.  She told me that within 24-72 hours I would hear from a representative regarding the outcome of the “Research Request.”  I heard nothing.

On April 27, 2010, I contacted Charter again and relayed my entire grievance.  I was told that the “Research Request” was still open and that I would hear from a representative within 24-72 hours.  Again, I heard nothing.

On April 30, 2010, I contacted Charter again and explained that I was owed a $300.00 gift card and had not yet received it.  I was told, again, that someone would contact me regarding the still-open “Research Request.”  I was also told that I would be given a $20.00 credit on my bill.  I did not hear from a representative nor did I receive any credit on my bill.

On or about May 17, 2010, I received an envelope in the mail from Customer Motivators.  Inside was a $75.00 Visa gift card and a request to return any previously sent gift cards. 

On May 19, 2010, I contacted Charter and was told that my gift card had been sent and I should have received it.  I relayed that I had received a $75.00 gift card but that my contract entitled me to a $300.00 gift card.  The representative to whom I spoke drafted a new “Research Request” or other document to be sent to a “team” who works on complaints detailing my frustration and Charter’s poor efforts to remedy the problem.  I was told that I would be contacted within 24 hours about the complaint.  I have not heard from Charter.

Every one of these contacts has taken up considerable time and emotional energy on my behalf. 

My position is that Charter has breached its contract with me and has made no effort to fulfill its obligations.  I believe that Charter has engaged in a deliberate scheme to entice customers into contracts that Charter has no intention to satisfy.

This letter serves as my last effort to resolve my gift card issue before I file a complaint in Dane County Circuit Court.  If I do not receive my $300.00 gift card within two weeks of the date of this letter, or June 7, 2010, I will file a formal complaint.

                                                                                    Sincerely,

                                                                                    Kate  —–

cc:       Federal Trade Commission

            Consumer Response Center

            600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

            Washington, D.C. 20580

            Wisconsin Department of Trade and Consumer Protection

            PO Box 8911

            Madison, WI 53708-8911


[1] Fifty-six days, or eight weeks, from February 20, 2010, was Saturday, April 17, 2010. 

I sent the letter to an address in Missouri, as well as to some fax number I was given by a guy in their “law enforcement” division who actually laughed at me.  As you probably noted, I also sent the letter to the FTC and DATCP. 

Today I received a telephone call from Charter telling me that my gift card was on its way.  They also sent me an email with a tracking number.  The package is currently in Florida.  We’ll see if it’s the right amount, but I’m hopeful.  And quietly content.

I really loathe that it takes so much effort and tenacity to get major corporations to fulfill their obligations.  I am certain Charter wouldn’t sit by quietly while I failed to pay my bill month after month.  What really bugs me, though, is that there are thousands of other consumers out there who may not know their rights or understand them.  They may be intimidated by the bureaucracy.  Or they may flat out not have the time or energy to spend what is required to make sure they are not taken advantage of.  I wish I could get everyone their $300.00 gift card.

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17 Responses to “Hostility”


  1. 1 gwendolyngarden May 26, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    lordy- I hope this does the trick. It shouldn’t be that hard.

  2. 2 Gretchen May 26, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    Good for you, Kate!! Hope they’ve actually fulfilled their obligation to you this time.

  3. 3 Kristin May 27, 2010 at 12:30 am

    Can I hire you to deal with my new landlord? Because I seriously can’t deal anymore and have lost all perspective and am just hostile every time I try to deal with them. Ugh, and double ugh.

  4. 4 Sara H May 27, 2010 at 8:58 am

    ZING! Great letter. So sorry you had to deal with that crud. Awesome lawyerly letter, though. I do feel bad for the others who won’t be able to understand that they can get what they’re owed!

  5. 5 Jane Roe May 27, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Good for you, Kate! This kind of utter contempt for the consumer makes me crazy. And of course you are correct, the real tragedy is that the average consumer doesn’t have the time nor the wherewithal to fight for what has been promised. I finally won my battle with Verizon but it wasn’t easy. Deep cleansing breaths, deep cleansing breaths:-)

  6. 6 Eric Ketzer May 27, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Hello Kate,

    My name is Eric Ketzer, and I am a Manager with Charter. We are very sorry to hear that obtaining your gift card has caused such frustration for you. I was able to locate your information in our billing system, and I have escalated this to the Program Manager. I will let you know as soon as we have confirmation of resolution.

    If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to contact me at Umatter2Charter@chartercom.com.

    Thanks, Eric

    Eric Ketzer
    Social Media Communications Manager
    Charter
    http://www.charter.com/Umatter2Charter

  7. 7 Raoser May 27, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Wow. Nice work, Kate. It certainly shouldn’t take that much work to ensure that businesses make good on their claims. It’s obvious that had you not been able to “lawyer up” and continue after them, or as you said, had you been intimidated by the entire situation, they would have continued leading you astray. I’m certain you will finally get your $300 credit. I can only hope the others do as well. Although my guess is they never even got the $75. Mr. Ketzer, I hope you will you be following up with other customers who were offered the same deal. That would be nice.

  8. 8 Mary May 27, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    So very sorry for the aggravation. So very much hoping your gift card will arrive. For all of you to know…..Kate wrote a letter (was terrific) to our previous landlord and our monet was refunded in 48 hrs. She is wonderful and I am so very grateful.

  9. 9 Mary May 27, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    meant money!

  10. 10 Kristin May 28, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Wow! The power of the blog. I must have been inspired by you and taken some of your mojo because I gave it to my landlord this week and within three days everything I’ve been asking for for a month has been done. Power to us! I’m so proud of you.

  11. 11 gwendolyngarden June 4, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Congratulations!!!!!

  12. 12 Andrea June 10, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Thank you for doing this!

  13. 13 Mary July 8, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Hi Kate,

    We are going through the exact same thing with Charter. We were supposed to receive a $150 Visa gift card, and we’ve been getting the runaround for months. We were finally told that we HAD TO have placed our order online to qualify. I placed it through a rep via live chat. Why did I do that? Oh, because the rep said that we could either do it through the website or she could put it in for us.

    I have spent HOURS dealing with this – I totally get your frustration. I will spend a few hours dealing with it in one day, and then, like you said, I “hit a wall” and can’t do it anymore. I got someone on the phone in corporate today, who was very nice and all, but expalined that the rules are very clear that the order has to be placed online, and she’s sorry the rep gave me faulty information. Yeah, I’m sorry, too. Where’s my freakin’ gift card?

    I’m sending another letter today, since my last formal letter to their marketing department was never acknowledged. That one, I sent to the P.O. Box that a rep gave me. This one is being sent to their street address, via certified mail. It is three pages long and has eight attachments. It’s going to cost a small fortune to send. Too bad I don’t have a Visa gift card laying around to pay for it.

    Oh, and several people have alluded to the gift card being something that I could “select from a list of participating vendors”. That wasn’t the deal either. Why didn’t I print off a screen shot of their own website advertising the promotion? I guess I’m too trusting that companies will honor their word.

    Can I file a formal complaint on my own behalf, or do I have to seek legal representation? I keep thinking attorney’s fees will more than eat up the $150 I would get from the gift card, but I really don’t just want to accept their lame explanation and let the matter drop. I have proof in writing that their rep told me we’d qualify for the gift card, and I want my gift card.

    Thank you SO much for blogging about this. I’m at least relieved to know their shady business practices are not all in my head. I wonder how many other people are dealing with this?

  14. 14 gracieandkate July 9, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Hi Mary,

    Attorneys’ fees would be expensive, but you should be able to collect them if you prevail. That said, I’d try it yourself first. Are you in Wisconsin? Wherever you are, find your state’s consumer protection agency and file a complaint with them. Then I’d file a letter to Charter telling them that you’ve alerted the agency and cc that letter to the agency, as well as the FTC. Call Charter and get the address for their legal department and send the letter there, as well as their headquarters. I hope this works for you. In my opinion, this is a pattern of horrible, dishonest business practice and — although it’s SO frustrating and mind-bogglingly painful — that we need to make them accountable for.

    Kate

  15. 15 Mary July 9, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Hi, Kate,

    I’m in Missouri. I’m sending a letter today to their marketing department at corporate, via certified mail, and I’m including printouts of all live chats I’ve had with them, plus the emails I exchanged with their rep who placed my original order. I’m requesting they respond within 14 days from their receipt of my letter, or I will escalate this further. If I don’t get a satisfactory reply to my letter, I will be filing a complaint wherever I need to and sending a letter to Charter’s legal department.

    Did you ever get your giftcard, and did they send the correct amount?

    Mary

  16. 16 gracieandkate July 9, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    I did get it. I sent my letter telling them that if I did not get my gift cards within 14 days (I think I said 14, too — though I think I gave a specific date), I would file a small claims suit against them and then they would be liable for costs and fees associated with that. About four days after that letter, I got a call from someone at Charter telling me the cards (oddly, they send VISA cards in $75 increments) were on their way to me and she gave me a tracking number. I received them a few days after that. Since then, they have called me several times and left messages on my voicemail asking me to call them back to let them know the cards arrived. I haven’t called. I don’t really feel the need to spend more time with them, to tell them they finally fulfilled their contract.

    Good luck to you! My fingers are crossed.

  17. 17 Mary July 9, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    I’m glad you finally got them! It is so frustrating that they can’t just keep their word without having to be threatened with legal action. Out of curiosity, was the legal department’s mailing address in Missouri? I always assumed that the headquarters here in St. Louis was where all of that stuff was housed, but now I’m wondering if they have corporate offices in other states.


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